MLOVE YOUtopia: smart and good

MLOVEI love Harald Neidhardet, the curator of the MLOVE festivals and was lucky enough to present at one of his events in Berlin a couple of years ago; it’s the only event where I’ve ever jumped into a well after being on stage.

This year was the fifth anniversary of the MLOVE ConFestival Europe and took place in a castle south of Berlin and I was gutted that I couldn’t make it this year. It featured speakers and topics from the Internet of Things, smart cities, creative design, brands and mobility, maker movement to Quantified Self and bio hacking… the future, basically.

I can vouch for the open innovation and intense networking at these shows. It brings together those who are creators and is inclusive to those who code, make, think, create, hack, finance and communicate about things that matter most, as MLOVE so succinctly describe the people who attend their events.

Speakers represented Rambus, Google, Microsoft, IXDS, CISCO, IBM, NBBJ, SoundCloud, Automattic, Conrad and inspiring entrepreneurs from Singularity University, HQAfrica, Indiegogo, Spark Plug Labs and Revelflow to name but a few.

“It was great to see the participants and speakers at MLOVE to be so vividly engaged in sharing their vision for the Future of Mobility. We could foster great collaborations to work on combining industry trends like Internet of Things to include the needs and desires of citizens to create ‘good cities’ amidst all the exponential growth of technical innovation”, said Harald.

MLOVE Startup Competition Winners

The following startups pitched at the startup competition and won prizes by Samsung and American Airlines through a partnership with Tech Wildcatters:

* AirMarkr (Berlin), CEO Miho Tanaka – Grand Prize: Flight to Silicon Valley
* Birdi (San Francisco), CEO Mark Belinsky – 1st Prize ‘Internet of Things’
* eFarmer, CMO Michael Utkin – 1st Prize ‘Mobile Apps & Mobility’
* Amazers, Co-CEO Fabio Carlucci – 1st Prize ‘Meaning’

The jury for the startup competition included Nikolaus Röttger (WIRED), Felicitas Hackmann (Venture Village), Fred Becker (GGM Venture Capital), Corentin Cremet (App Developers Alliance) plus representatives from simyo, Rambus, Cisco, IBM, SBB, Alice, TechStars, hub:raum and was led by Andrew J. Scott.

Saltside classifieds kick butt in Africa and Asia

How toEuropean tech company Saltside Technologies, which previously raised $25m from AB Kinnevik and has been in stealth mode since founding, is already a market leader in classified sites in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Ghana.

Founded by former Skype employees, the company has experienced 300% annual growth since its inception three years ago by providing vital online infrastructure for emerging markets, at a time when the vast majority of people are using the internet for the first time.

Saltside’s current classified sites – Bikroy.com in Bangladesh, Tonaton.com in Ghana, and Ikman.lk in Sri Lanka – are drawing in millions of views a month through low-cost internet access on mobile phones.

“Our mission is to create a safe and efficient marketplace for millions of people to make deals who could not previously access them. We’ve witnessed first-hand how powerful efficient markets are in improving ordinary people’s lives and want to support and foster the naturally entrepreneurial attitude which is prevalent in these markets,” said Nils Hammar, CEO Saltside Technologies.

One example, Wahid Hassan Saif, of Alif Enterprise, uses one of Saltside’s sites to sell imported electric bikes to working middle class residents in Dhaka, who are often frustrated by the huge traffic jams and inaccessible public transport. The young entrepreneur is now using the site to reach every district and every corner of Bangladesh with his bikes.

In Sri Lanka there are multiple case studies of mobile phone dealers who make their living from exclusively trading on ikman.lk. One user, a university student in Colombo, is now able to finance his higher education by moving his mobile phone business onto ikman.lk to open it up to buyers from across the country.

In Ghana, Tonaton.com enables local fashion designers to expand their businesses, giving them a bigger platform to showcase their craft to Ghana’s growing middle class.

“The combined value of online advertising in Africa and The Middle East is expected to reach $2.8 billion by 2016, and in Asia that figure is expected to hit $53.2 billion by 2016. Yet, far too many countries in these incredibly dynamic markets are overlooked,” added Hammar.

Boxing clever beats other apps to the iPunch

ipunchA new Indiegogo campaign it trying to beat other apps to the, er, punch with a pair of data-enabled boxing gloves.

As the Quantified Self movements increases in momentum, after Apple’s recent announcement of its iPhone HealthKit product, the iPunch is literally a hardware product to help people’s fitness.

The iPunch produced by Responsive Sports is a boxing glove (well, two boxing gloves) that are the ‘world’s first smart combat gloves’ and connects to Android devices in three formats – iPunch trainer, Three Minute Round or Test of Strength to help become better boxers and fitter.

The battery for the gloves powers a sensor hidden in the wrist of the boxing glove and lasts for 300 three-minute round. These glovesbare sturdy, although the press release does warn against putting them in a washing machine. Now, that would be knocking somebody clean out… and nobody wants that.

Free Gamer Kit from Google for UK kid coders

codeclubTechnology education organisations Code Club and Technology Will Save Us have been brought together to offer an amazing opportunity to 900 children around the UK.

Thanks to $100,000 from the Google RISE program, children in Code Clubs will be able to receive DIY Gamer Kit to build and program during their club sessions for free, which normally costs £60.

The kit allows kids to solder together 40 parts on a custom circuit board to build their own handheld games console. Once the build is complete the console, controlled by Arduino, can be programmed to create exciting games. Children in Code Clubs will be taught soldering, electronics, programming and design using resources that have been created especially for the project.

Code Clubs that are interested in receiving free DIY Gamer Kits and resources can click here to find out more.

Understandably, due to the feel-good nature of this project, there were no end of quotes from those involved.

“Google has a critical role to play in making computer science more accessible and inclusive globally, especially for girls. This education is key, not just for developing tech sector talent, but for creating technology that makes a difference,” said Hai Hong, the K-12 Outreach Program Manager at Google.

“We are thrilled to be working with Code Club and it is exciting that Google is enabling these kinds of partnerships. This collaboration draws on the strengths of both organisations and allows us to enable thousands of young people and hundred of volunteers to become digital makers,” said Technology Will Save Us’ CEO Bethany Koby.

“We’ve had fantastic success teaching children to code in our clubs since 2012, and we’re excited to give them the opportunity to learn physical computing too. Programming devices to interact with their surroundings is an engaging, hands-on way to learn coding,” said Code Club’s Head of Education, Rik Cross.

Africa e-commmerce giant Jumia comes to London

jumia_londonAfrica’s largest online retailer Jumia has opened in London, its first office outside the continent meaning people from the UK can order online to send gifts to family and friends in Africa.

Based in Nigeria, the company is now bringing its raft of products to the UK with an online store that allows relatives to order online in the UK, pay in pounds, and send their goods for just ₤3 to their ‘loved ones’ doorstep in Nigeria within one to eight days’. Continue reading